Switching jobs is a HUGE career decision that impacts not only your finances but also your schedule, quality of life, and more. When is changing jobs the right move, and what are the different factors at play? Today, our hosts will show you what to do when faced with such a big decision!
Welcome back to the BiggerPockets Money podcast! In this episode, Mindy and Kyle are fielding some of your top questions. In addition to changing jobs, they discuss 401(k) investing strategies—including how to handle accounts from previous employers and how to set up your own solo 401(k)! They also talk about what to expect as a first-time landlord and all of the different tax benefits and liabilities that come along with the job. Plus, what you should do if your tax professional makes a dreaded error.
Finally, they offer some timely investing advice that will help you navigate the current economic climate. Amidst inflation and high mortgage rates, should you invest in the stock market, pay off your debts, or go another route entirely? Stay tuned to find out!
Listen to the Podcast Here
Read the Transcript Here
Welcome, my dear listeners, to the BiggerPockets Money Podcast, where we answered listener questions today. We’re going to discuss 401(k)s, being a first-time landlord, potentially switching jobs, taxes, and investment strategies. Hello, hello, hello. My name is Mindy Jensen, and with me today is a CFP, but not your CFP, Kyle Mast.
Hello, Mindy. How you doing?
I am doing fantastic today, Kyle. It’s so lovely to see you again.
It’s good to be here. And these are always fun shows, where we get to go through some questions here that just come off of the groups that BiggerPockets has, and hopefully they can give some insight to a whole bunch of different people as we go through them.
Today, Kyle and I are here to make financial independence less scary, less just for somebody else, to introduce you to every money story because we truly believe financial freedom is attainable for everyone, no matter when or where you are starting.
Whether you’re looking to retire early, travel the world, go on to make some big-time investments like real estate, or just start your own business, we’ll help you reach your goals and get money out of the way so that you can launch yourself towards whatever your dreams are.
Now it’s time for the segment of our show called The Money Moment, where we share a money hack, tip, or trick to help you on your financial journey. Today’s Money Moment is provided by Innago. Find out why Innago is the number one rated property management software. As an exclusive offer to BiggerPockets listeners, you’ll get $25 for using Innago at innago.com/biggerpockets. That’s innago.com/biggerpockets.
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And we are back. Hello, everyone, and welcome to another show where we answer your listener questions. If you would like to apply, please go to biggerpockets.com/moneyquestion or post in our Facebook group, which is found at facebook.com/groups/bpmoney. This first question comes from Brian, who posted in our Facebook group. I have a 401(k) with my previous employer, but I am now self-employed. I may want to borrow against the 401(k) in the future. Do I need to move my 401(k) to a new solo 401(k) or something else in order to borrow from it? What other interesting ways can I use this account as an investment vehicle? Kyle?
Oh, boy. A bunch of moving parts here. This is a fun one. I’m going to try not to get too nerdy on it. With a previous employer, you can’t take a loan on it. The way 401(k) loans work is they want to be able to use your current employment and your current pay stub to make payments back to your 401(k) loan. So if you already have a loan when you leave an employer, that’s something to really be mindful of, because a lot of times that comes due within a certain amount of time from when you leave an employer, and you need to be able to pay that back.
So in this case, if you want to borrow from your 401(k) funds at some point in the future, a good way to do it, which is kind of said in the question, is to roll it to your own solo 401(k). However, you actually have to have a business to open that solo 401(k) with. It doesn’t have to be a major business. It can be a small business, it can be a sole proprietorship, it can be an LLC. But yeah, you would need to do that.
And then, depending on what type of solo 401(k) you set up, you get plan documents from a provider that helps you have that set up for your business. It sounds more complicated than it really is. There’s a lot of them on the internet that you can find. And you could organize that yourself, and then be able to borrow from it. There’s different rules as far as how much you can borrow, how you have to pay it back, how the interest rate is determined, and that’ll be determined by the provider that you use to set up that solo 401(k).
I would ask, in this question … I’m just answering it as it’s asked right away, but I would also ask a few more questions, like what are you going to use this money for? Is there some other place that you can get money from, rather than pulling from a retirement account first? Is this something that a home equity line of credit … Are you going to use this to partially start a fix-and-flip business in real estate? There’s a lot more questions I would want to ask here before I would say this is the route that you should go if you’re in need of some funds.
A lot of times, people look to their 401(k) because they think it’s so liquid and it’s usually a larger savings vehicle that they have, but there’s other places you might want to look first that are a lot less hassle and have a lot less potential for a penalty at some point if you don’t pay something back or if you accidentally withdraw it before retirement age. But yeah. Great question on the logistics of that.
I have done this exact same thing. I am a real estate agent, which counts as self-employment income, so I can have a self-directed solo 401(k). And what we did, my husband and I actually took all of the 401(k)s that we had from all the different locations that we had been investing in, and pooled them into one account. I never really understood why people would take their 401(k) monies from other companies and pool them into their current company’s 401(k) until we had the solo 401(k), and then it made a lot of sense, because we wanted to be investing in real estate through this account and making private loans to other investors through this account. So we gathered up all these random funds and poured it in there, so we had a big pool to use from. One thing to note is that 401(k) loans are capped at $50,000.
Or half the balance, sometimes. And this is-
Yeah. Whatever’s lower.
Yeah. I think there has been a rule change on this, so I want to make sure that we maybe throw in there that this might be something you want to make sure you double check online. But your plan document, when you set up a solo 401(k), it will be spelled out in there precisely what that limit is.
Yeah. And if you are setting up a solo 401(k), ask a ton of questions of the person or the company that is helping you set it up. Make sure you completely understand not only what you’re doing, but how you can access those funds, how you can use those funds, how you can invest those funds.
With my solo 401(k), I can invest in real estate. I can’t invest in some collectible items like, I think, wine and art. There’s a list of stuff that I cannot invest in. Conveniently coincides with a list of things I don’t want to invest in, so that works out well. But you can also invest in stocks. And my plan is set up as loosely as I could, so I am able to take a $50,000 loan if I need to.
Kyle, do you have any thoughts on when to take a 401(k) loan versus when to take a HELOC? Because right now, HELOCs are kind of expensive. A couple of years ago, that would have been the route I would recommend all the time.
Yeah. I mean, that’s a good way to look at it right there. What’s the cost of the money? What’s the interest rate? And a lot of times on the 401(k) loans, that a HELOC doesn’t have, is you have a fixed interest rate. A lot of times, it’ll be prime plus a certain amount, and it’s fixed for up to 15 years, a lot of times, for your solo 401(k) loan.
But also what Mindy said too. That plan document, when you’re setting it up, just make sure … And I would say do what Mindy did. Make it as loose as possible, because some of these that you set up, you can’t do Roth contributions to it. You can’t do a loan from it, but that’s just because the plan document is written that way in the company that you use. Just use a solo 401(k) company that allows you to use as much of the 401(k) rules as you possibly can, whether you use them or not, whether you want to make Roth contributions or not.
I had a solo 401(k) plan once through one of the investment firms that I used in my financial planning firm. And for some reason, I used it because the fees were incredibly low. They didn’t allow a Roth option, which I just did not like at all. And I was able to move it somewhere else, but you just need to keep an eye on those things to make it as loose as possible, like Mindy’s talking about.
Awesome. Thanks, Kyle.
Okay. Let’s jump into this next one. My parents are older and retired. They built an in-law suite attached to my house on my property, and moved in with us. Their financial advisor’s helping them with financial planning, and advised them to pay me rent every month out of a pooled income trust. So now, I’m getting a couple of thousand dollars a month in rental income. I’ve never been a landlord and wasn’t planning on being one, so is there anything I need to be thinking about with taxes? Do I have some liability here? Ooh, this is a good one too. Go for it, Mindy. What do you say?
Yes, to both of those questions. Do I need to be thinking about taxes? You do, because rental income is income. Now, they said, “The financial advisor advised them to pay me rent every month out of a pooled income trust.” Kyle, this is not a phrase that I’m familiar with. Could it possibly be that his parents and he have pooled their income together? Is that what that means?
No, this is referring to something else. We won’t go into the weeds to it. But essentially, in this case, it’s the parents’ trust, where they have income coming into it and they’re using it to distribute the income. And my guess is that the advisor … It sounds like he’s a good one, or she, advised to pay rent to the kid for several different reasons. For relationship reasons. You don’t have this kind of weird relationship where, oh, we’re living for free. We built something on your property. Who pays what?
Whenever I worked with clients and there was family stuff, we always set it up as if you had a tenant, as if you had a landlord. Of course, you treat them as family, but you pay them in a way that is very above board. The person receiving rent needs to report the income that she receives, but she can also use that income to pay for some expenses for the unit that is on her property, that might offset some of that income. You don’t want to pay for expenses that you don’t need, but you want to make sure you deduct those expenses also from that income as it’s coming in.
But yeah. You’re a landlord, whether you wanted to be or not. And you do have a responsibility anytime you make income, to know what you’re supposed to do with it, reporting it. This is a pretty easy one when you’re filing your taxes. If you do it on TurboTax or something like that, it’ll ask you for rental income. You just put it in there.
I would suggest in this case, because it’s essentially a separate business that you’ve got, I would open a separate bank account and have the parents put the money in there. And then use that bank account to pay any expense that you need to for that unit, so that you keep everything straight. And at the end of the year, you can … To your CPA, your tax preparer, or when you do it online yourself, you have a really easy record of the income that came in and the expenses that went out. The net of that is what you report as your net income that you get taxed on, or gets added to your taxable income. But keeping that separate is probably what you want to do right from the get-go, just so it doesn’t get confused later.
That is a really good point. I’m glad you brought that up. I also want to bring up the D word. Depreciation. When you have a rental property, the government assumes that it is only going to be valid for 27.5 years, so you depreciate one 27-and-a-halfth, which is a very difficult way to say that, of the value of that property that is rental. So that definitely gets into the weeds.
Something that this question says, “They built an in-law suite attached to my house.” I really want to send this person to a CFP, a CPA, a tax provider, tax professional who understands real estate and real estate taxes, because if they built it, do they own it? Is this a gift to the original questioner? I think that there could be maybe some sticky things involved in here that are above my pay grade.
But the bottom line for the taxes is rental income is income. You owe income taxes on it. There are tax benefits for owning rental real estate, and you want to make sure that you are taking depreciation every year, because the government assumes you are, even if you aren’t. So when you sell it, you’ll have to pay depreciation recapture, which is a complicated process that I can’t get into in this particular episode, but essentially, you’re giving money back to the government for all the money that you got as a discount on your taxes for the depreciation. Not all of it, but some of it. So if you’re not taking it, you’re just giving back for no reason. So you want to make sure you take it.
Yeah. Just a follow-up. I mean, Mindy’s picking out some stuff in this question that I would really be concerned about too. The parents built it onto the house. This depreciation question, now you’re getting to where you need to talk to a CPA about the depreciation and the effects on your primary residence, as a proportionate amount of that rental being a part of your primary residence with depreciation.
The other piece that Mindy talked about, did the parents gift this addition to them? How was that done? Does this person own this addition? Do they have an agreement that says it’s partially owned by the parents? This gets real into the weeds. So if I was in this situation advising a client, I would say loan your kids the money so that you can build this addition, so that you own it. Your kids pay you interest on the loan that you use to build this addition, and then your parents rent the place from you. Rental income. So that you have these very clear lines that this is your property, this is your addition. You got a loan for it. You can deduct the interest of that loan, because you used it to add on this rental unit, and then you have income from a tenant, which happens to be your parents. There’s nothing wrong with that. But you separate these things out.
When the parents throw down $60,000 or $100,000 and add on a little unit, who does it belong to? How much say do they have in your property now? What if they move? What if you move? You can get into some really major family stuff, so I won’t belabor it anymore, but this is definitely a situation that you want to talk about sooner rather than later, for relationship’s sake.
Yes. And let’s just say that, relationship’s sake, if you are an only child, it’s less important, but if there are siblings involved it’s best to get everything written down. Mom and Dad gave me $70,000 to build this, so then … You want everything to be fair, or maybe you don’t. I’m not the boss of your family, but you just want everything written down so down the road, you have a record of it. That’s my relationship advice for you.
All right, Kyle. I like this next question, because there’s a lot of fun involved in it. Well, fun for me. I have been with the same company for about eight years. In that time, I have more than doubled my pay, and currently make about $75,000 plus about $10,000 in bonus. Yesterday, I got an offer from another company for the same position. $90,000 base pay, plus car stipend, and upwards of $35,000 bonus potential. I love my job, but my typical work week is about 50 to 70 hours. I have helped them build this company from three stores to eight. I’ve been promised that after the owner builds her 11th store, she will help me open one. The owner paid for my training to be a franchisee with the company, and has given me opportunities that no one else has to grow with her company. What should I do?
Yes. This is a tough one. There’s so many moving pieces with this one. So the first thing that jumps out to me, I value time so much, so as soon as I see someone working 50 to 70 hours a week, I immediately want to ask questions. What is important to you? Do you have a family? Do you like working 50 to 70 hours a week? Does the new job require you to work 50 to 70 hours a week? Even if the new job says you’ll only work 40 hours a week, how do you know that? So some of these questions, when it comes to the time that you’re putting in, those need to be answered first, because you can’t compare apples to apples if one job is taking 40%, 30% more time than the other, and the quality of life is different.
If it’s fairly comparable on that standpoint, it sounds like you have a fairly good relationship with the owner of the company that you’re at. I would probably have an honest conversation. And if you feel comfortable with it, talk to them, that you like the company, maybe you feel the hours are too much. This other company is offering you this package, and you’re just trying to make a smart decision for the long-term, for you. You don’t have to tell them what you’re leaning one way or the other, but that might be a place to go at first.
But again, I come back to the time thing. And you just got to figure out what is most important to you. Is it most important to you to get as much money as possible right now? And there’s nothing wrong with that. Different stages of life. That’s a really good thing, because it can set you up well for the next stage of life. But time is just so valuable, so you want to make sure that you are placing enough value on that as you’re comparing the two items.
Yep. So what I get from this question, it says, “Yesterday, I got an offer from another company for the same position.” I’m going to go with same hours, for the sake of my answer. They’re giving you $15,000 more in salary, and $25,000 more in potential bonus, plus a car stipend. You’re opening up eight stores, or you opened up five stores for this one woman. And she’s promised to help you open your own store. She paid your franchisee training. I don’t know how much that costs. We don’t know what franchise this is. That varies franchise to franchise.
But you said you love your job, and that’s really important. Yesterday, I got an offer from another company. Are you looking, or did somebody recognize how awesome you are and approach you? If you’re looking, I’m questioning how much you actually love your job. If somebody approached you, that’s a great bargaining chip. Hi, Manager Barb. I wasn’t looking for a job. I love my job. We’ve talked about me opening my own store after you open your 11th. Blah blah, blah. But I was just approached by this company, and they’re going to offer me this. Could you match the bonus? Could you match the car stipend? Could you match the salary?
Manager Barb might really love you a lot and say, “I don’t want to lose you over $15,000 and a car.” Or she might say, “Well, I was thinking about firing you anyway, so see ya,” and that makes your decision super easy. But with a manager that has paid for your franchisee training, has already told you she’s going to help you open a store once she’s opened three more stores, and it sounds like that’s something that you want, my inclination in your same position would be to stay where you are after having the conversation of, “Hey, somebody approached me and said, ‘We’ll give you more money.’ Barb, would you match it?” And see what Barb will do. I mean, Barb doesn’t have to match the whole thing, but Barb is doing an awful lot for you just by doing all these extra things that she’s done.
Yeah. Really good question. That’s a tough one. That’s a good answer. I like what Mindy said about focusing on the loving of your job and what that entails, as you work through that one. That’s rough.
Has anyone had an experience with tax accountants taking responsibility for penalties that directly resulted from their error? Is this reasonable to expect? I discovered that my accountant has given me incorrect advice regarding my retirement account, which I’m correcting now, but will result in penalties. Oh, I like this one. Mindy, I think you did some research on this one, and then I’ll chime in afterwards. Go for it.
I did some research. I reached out to my friend, Natalie Kolodij, who is a tax professional, and I said, “What happens if you make a mistake? Do you just pay for that?” And she said it depends on the tax professional. Ultimately, the taxpayer is responsible for their return, and you are responsible for the things that you are doing. When you sign off on your return, you’re saying that it’s okay, that you’re okay with what’s being filed. So liability is really only on the tax professional if they were intentionally giving you bad advice.
So the first thing you should do is reach out to them and let them know that the information they gave you is wrong. One thing that comes to mind is the Roth IRA contributions. If, perhaps, they told you to put too much in your Roth IRA or they said you could contribute when your income was too high and you actually can’t contribute, not only do you have to withdraw the money that you put in there, but there are also fees or penalties associated with that.
So if they gave you incorrect information with regards to that … People make mistakes. Perhaps they didn’t have all the information. Perhaps they mistook you for somebody else’s situation. There’s a lot of things at play that we don’t specifically know. But allowing your tax professional, first, to understand that there was a problem, and to get them involved as soon as possible, they could ask for a penalty reduction or a tax abatement.
One thing to note is if their information caused you to pay less taxes, like you paid $7,000 but you owed $10,000. You already owed the $10,000. That $3,000 is not something that you are going to … It’s not something you should expect your tax pro to pay. That was always your tax burden. Also to note is that if you get a notice that there’s penalties and fees, like I said, you should reach out to the tax pro, let them reach out to the IRS and make sure, first of all, that they’re actually legitimate. The IRS makes mistakes too. So once they know that there is an issue, then they can determine what’s going on, what they’re going to do. Let them offer you something.
The bottom line is a good tax pro should help with the cost of their mistake as far as fees and penalties go, but get them involved before you make any payments to the IRS, because once you make a payment to the IRS, you’re essentially accepting the charges.
Yeah. That’s a really good overview. And I’ll just chime in. The IRS does make mistakes. I don’t know if that’s exactly what’s going on here. But personally, there’s been two times where I’ve actually mailed letters back to the IRS saying that they were wrong, and then they acknowledged it. The longer you’re doing personal finance, the longer you’re in business, or something that’s just even a little bit more complicated, everybody makes mistakes. Even professional CPAs will make mistakes.
A couple of things I’d add. When it comes to something like this, the fees and penalties that maybe were above and beyond what you already owed, I think it’s completely reasonable for you to ask them to cover that. If there was something, like you had to pay interest because you didn’t pay the amount you owed but it’s due to a poor calculation on their part, I think it’s probably not going to be a ton, but that’s the part of their cost of doing business.
I’ll give you an example. So I made a mistake one time with a client and I forgot to … Mindy’s shocked. Oh my goodness, you made a mistake. You bet. Plenty. I forgot to move money from a client’s normal investment account into their Roth IRA before the deadline. We had planned it. I had put a reminder in. For some reason, I missed it. The next year, we met and it wasn’t in there, and I was like, “Oh my goodness, I totally missed this.”
So what I did is I recalculated all the lost market appreciation that had happened during that time. The market had gone up. I calculated out 30 years of basically tax-free growth, and the value of that on an assumed tax rate for that client, and I paid her what she missed out on for that. And we put that in an investment account, and that’s growing. So I made her whole. I didn’t pay her more. I didn’t pay her less. But I made the mistake, and a professional … If it’s someone good that you’re working with, they know they make mistakes sometimes, and there’s ways to make that whole.
The other thing that I would say is sometimes people will not agree with you that they made a mistake. Sometimes people will try to hold out and not pay for something that they probably should have. And I think you have to just kind of put maybe a dollar amount on what you are okay with walking away from, because you can take some of these things a long ways and try to reclaim. If it’s a big tax burden or a big mistake … When I’m saying big, I’m talking like $50,000, and we’re going up from there, then you need to probably do something. Maybe talk to an attorney or something. What can you do? Professionals, like a CPA or a CFP like me, have errors and omissions insurance for situations where we make a big mistake, because we have big dollar amounts that we’re working with sometimes, and sometimes the wrong keystroke does something really bad. And we have insurance for that. So that might be the route.
But the other piece of that is if it’s $5,000 or less, it seems like a lot of money, but you’re not going to gain anything by going after them. Everyone’s going to lose. It’s going to be heartache. If you can learn from the experience, find someone good and move on. It doesn’t feel good, but that might be the route. You just cover it if they’re not willing to come to the table with what they’re responsible for. Sometimes, that’s just part of life. And maybe you have kids, and they can see how you respond to adversity and do the right thing and move on, and not let it get to you too much.
But yeah, this is a tough situation. It’s hard to know who’s at fault. But if it’s a smaller thing and they’re a good person, they’ll usually come up with the difference for you if they’re in the wrong.
I like that you shared that personal experience too, Kyle. I can’t believe you made a mistake, though.
Oh, yeah. That’s not the only one. More will come up as we do podcasts.
There was one more, one time.
All right, last question. Given the current mortgage interest rates of 7% plus and the average return of the S&P 500 being 9.75% or 7.03% adjusted for inflation over the past 20 years, does it make sense for current buyers to forego investing in the market and put that money towards the loan principal? I have a thought. Kyle, what do you say?
Oh, this is a tough one too. I mean, I definitely think when you have higher loan balances on mortgages, it makes it a lot easier to get a guaranteed rate of return. So if you’ve got a loan interest rate and inflation has come down currently, especially in that situation … So say we’re down to 4 to 6% inflation, but you have a 7.5% mortgage rate, that definitely makes sense to pay towards that, since the historical return on the S&P 500 is in that realm, inflation adjusted. Even if you’re not making quite as much, adjusted for the risk of investing, debt is risk-free. Paying off debt is a risk-free investment. Guaranteed return. There’s nothing else out there like it. So that’s a good way to compare that.
If inflation is really high currently, my answer gets a little nuanced, because you might be able to find something where you get a really high return, like a treasury bond that’s paying 9.63%, because inflation’s super high and you have a 7.5% mortgage. So it is not always that way, but yes, definitely as mortgage rates get higher, guaranteed return of paying down debt makes it a lot easier, especially if you’re someone that’s less into risk. If you’re more risk averse, this is a great way to go to improve your cashflow.
My thought is for the future. My thought is not for right now. 7% interest rates are historically average, or slightly below average. Let’s see, how do I want to say this? When I have paid off my mortgage, then I have that much money sitting in a lump in my house, and I have nothing in the stock market for my future. It doesn’t make sense, outside of money and percentage rates and guaranteed rate of return and risk and all of that. I don’t want to be a home equity millionaire and have really nothing left.
Maybe this is my forever home. It’s not. But maybe it is, and then this is paid off, but what am I going to live off of? I could get a reverse mortgage, which I really don’t like. I could get a HELOC, and who knows what interest rate that’s going to be. I could go out and get an entire new mortgage on my house to live off of. But having money in the stock market gives me a sense of security. So until mortgage rates get back into the late ’70s, double digits, like 16% realm, and I really don’t think that’ll happen, I would still continue to put money in the S&P 500. I’m not a big fan of paying off your mortgage early.
All right, Kyle. This was a super fun episode, and I appreciate your time answering all of our listeners’ questions. Remember, Kyle is a CFP, but he’s not your CFP. Kyle, where can people find you online?
Best place is just on my website, kylemast.com. It’s the easiest place. Sometimes I’m on Twitter, but the website’s the best place to go. How about you, Mindy? Where do people find you?
I am @MindyatBP on all the social medias that count. And you can always email me, [email protected]. If you have a money question for us, you can send it to biggerpockets.com/moneyquestions, or post it in our Facebook group, which is found at facebook.com/groups/bpmoney. All right, that wraps up this episode of the BiggerPockets Money Podcast. He is the Kyle Mast, and I am Mindy Jensen, saying, “See you around, friendly clown.”
If you enjoyed today’s episode, please give us a five-star review on Spotify or Apple, and if you’re looking for even more money content, feel free to visit our YouTube channel at youtube.com/biggerpocketsmoney.
BiggerPockets Money was created by Mindy Jensen and Scott Trench, produced by Kailyn Bennett, editing by Exodus Media, copywriting by Nate Weintraub. Lastly, a big thank you to the BiggerPockets team for making this show possible.
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In This Episode We Cover
- Leaving your job for a higher-paying one (and when it’s best to stay put!)
- How to handle your old 401(k) accounts and set up a solo 401(k)
- Tax benefits and liabilities you MUST know as a first-time landlord
- What to do when your tax professional makes a COSTLY error
- Investing in the stock market versus paying off debt (and how to get the best rate of return)
- And So Much More!
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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.